What's happening in your writing life and mine; Book Updates and recommendations; The wonderful world of reading, writing, and everything in the middle.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
RONICA has some great gift ideas for your favorite young person!
Ronica Stromberg is the author of a picture book, The Time-for-Bed Angel; a middle-grade mystery, The Glass Inheritance; and two novels for tweens and teens, A Shadow in the Dark and Living It Up to Live It Down. She also has stories in 18 anthologies and writes regularly for inspirational children's magazines. She enjoys reading mysteries, literature classics, children's books, and romances in her spare time.
SDC: It’s good to have you here, Ronica. What are some of your favorite themes you write about these days? Do you see them changing?
RS: My latest books, A Shadow in the Dark and Living It Up to Live It Down, just came out in the past two months, but I actually wrote them eight years ago. Both are aimed at tweens and teens. In A Shadow in the Dark, young teen Kirsten Hart keeps seeing a shadowy figure at her neighbor’s window and becomes a sleuth to discover who this girl is and why she doesn’t come out. Kirsten soon finds herself on a journey of understanding God’s purpose for every individual. She struggles with her new faith in a Heavenly Father because her earthly father has let her down so many times. In Living It Up to Live It Down, she befriends a pastor’s daughter, Sarah, as someone to lean on and learn from in the faith. But Sarah has gone astray and could use a little help herself. While the first book in this series is a mystery, the second is a more humorous “problem” novel. I find myself moving toward more humor in my writing although the books still deal with themes such as peer pressure, fitting in, and seeing God in daily life.
SDC: Both sound great and perfect for Christmas gifts for young adults. What are your plans for the Christmas holidays, Ronica?
RS: I’m of Scandinavian descent and it’s fallen to me to make the lefse (a traditional Norwegian flatbread) for my family this year. After making it, my husband, children, and I will travel to my home state, Iowa, to spend with the rest of my family. I’ll also do a book signing at my hometown’s independent bookstore and maybe take in the Christmas parade.
SDC: What a great idea. I would love to taste lefse sometime. I also love to find out what others are going to do at Christmas. But let's jump back to your books for a few moments. Do you ever get the opportunity to share yours in school settings? If so, tell us about that.
RS: Oh-h-h, yes! I regularly read in schools, teach about writing, and lead workshops in which children work on improving their own writing skills. The topics I teach on are listed at my site, http://www.ronicastromberg.wordpress.com/ , under the page titled “visits, talks, presentations, and signings.” This last year I was a featured author at several literature festivals and young writers’ conferences, and I especially enjoyed that. I learn about as much as from the children as I teach.
SDC: All sound like fun. There is something special about working with children. I have always loved it too. Why don't you tell us next what your biggest plans are for 2010?
RS: I’m hoping to get back into the workforce part-time (either as an in-house editor for a corporation or government agency, as I used to be, or performing clerical work) and continue marketing my books and working on an inspirational romance and some smaller children’s projects.
SDC: You will be a busy woman! I met you when we became critique partners once. Are you still critiquing other people’s manuscripts, Ronica? How easy or hard is it to critique a story you are not enjoying?
RS: I enjoyed our critique exchange, but not every exchange goes that well. What’s most discouraging about critique exchanges is, often, you start critiquing another person’s manuscript and see right away it will never pass muster. Then you’re faced with hours of polishing on a manuscript that will likely go nowhere, and the critique you get in exchange will probably hold little value. It’s important when exchanging critiques to have a partner who’s at least as far along in the process as you. Not everyone can afford to go to conferences or take classes to improve skills, but everyone can check out books on writing from the library and learn that way. So if you get a partner who is at least studying the craft on her own, that’s someone you can work with.
I had the great fortune recently to have an award-winning, multi-published romance author critique the first three chapters of a romance I’d written. My manuscript came back with some hard-hitting critiques. I was elated. I had finally gotten answers to the question, What can I do to get to the next level? I wish I could make this romance author my critique partner permanently, but realistically, my critiques wouldn’t sufficiently pay her back. And a critique really needs to be mutually beneficial.
SDC: Thanks for giving such good advice on critiquing. I understand you will offer Living It Up to Live It Down to one of our readers. What question that relates to the Christmas season would you like to ask today?
RS: What is your favorite childhood memory of Christmas?
SDC: Perfect question for the holidays. I love hearing about people's childhood memories. I just did one at a brunch I spoke at recently which I turned it into a short devotional. While we wait for answers from others, tell us where we can find you and also your books.